As one of the final stages of Ohio’s “responsible restart” plan Governor DeWine announced that Ohio’s child care providers may reopen on May 31st.
The reopening of child care is a crucial aspect of the Governor’s plan since efforts to get Ohioans back to work would be severely crippled without a child care solution. The plan centers around (1) reduced staff to child ratios; (2) checking temperatures of all staff, children, and adults; and (3) mandatory hand washing practices.
Staff to Child Ratios
Child care providers must operate under reduced staff to child ratios and maximum group size limitations at all times as follows:
- One child care staff member per four infants with no more than six children in the room.
- One child care staff member per six toddlers with no more than six children in the room.
- One child care staff member per nine preschool/school-age children with no more than nine children in the room.
Mandatory Hand Washing Practices
Both child care workers and attendees must follow rigorous hand washing procedures at drop-off, during the day, and at pick-up. Most of the hand washing requirements are obvious, but include after toileting or assisting a child with toileting; contact with bodily fluids; before eating, serving or preparing food; after cleaning or using chemical products; before and after administering medication; and after breaks and upon returning from outside.
Recommended Best Practices
At a glance, the Governor’s child care reopening plan appears to be less stringent than other industries, such as retail. Many procedures in other industries (i.e. facial coverings and sanitization protocol) are not mandatory requirements for child care providers. However, in addition to the aforementioned mandatory reopening requirements, the Governor has recommended the following best practices:
- Child care workers should wear a cloth face covering, unless it is unsafe for them to do so.
- Pick-up and drop-off procedures should be modified (i.e. curbside drop-off and pick-up, staggered times, and limited parent/visitor entry into the facility).
- Field trips and other excursions should be cancelled.
- Use of communal spaces (i.e. playground, lunchroom, and bathroom) should be staggered.
- Toys should be sanitized or discarded after use.
- Child care workers should wear gloves while serving food and preparing bottles.
With limited data available regarding children and COVID-19, the Governor has stated that additional changes could come as the state learns more information. If a child care provider suspects or confirms a case of COVID-19, they should immediately isolate the individual, seek medical care, and if possible, shut down the affected rooms for deep sanitation. The Department of Job and Family Services and local health department officials should be contacted in the event of any confirmed cases of COVID-19 among children or staff.